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Anxiety Disorders

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times.  However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life.  The major types of anxiety disorders are listed below:

  • Panic Disorder – recurrent, sudden surges of physical symptoms that appear out of the blue
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder – worry about separating from caregivers
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – excessive uncontrollable worry about a number of events or activities
  • Social Anxiety – fear of social or performance situations
  • Specific Phobia – fear of a specific object or situation
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – bothersome thoughts and images followed by repetitive behaviors or rituals

What are the symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder: however, general symptoms include:

  • Physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, sweating, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing control or of going crazy, fear of dying, numbness or tingling sensations, chills or hot flashes
  • Feelings that are out of proportion to the situation (e.g., crying, sadness, tantrums, irritability, frustration, anger, embarrassment, fear, and hopelessness)
  • Worrying hours, days or weeks ahead
  • Asking repetitive questions and/or frequently looking for reassurance
  • Demonstrating excessive avoidance of certain things or situations
  • Headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension
  • Sleep difficulties

How are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by a mental health professional qualified to assess for this condition.  Because anxiety disorders can cause physical symptoms, evaluation by a pediatrician or family physician is usually recommended to rule out medical conditions.  Diagnosis is made following a thorough mental health evaluation that includes an interview with the child and caregivers as well as questionnaires.  It may also be helpful to gather information from teachers.

How are Anxiety Disorders treated?

Psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two is used in treating anxiety disorders.  Research shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in treating anxiety disorders.  CBT can be used in individual, family, and/or group formats.

For more information or to request an evaluation and treatment, please contact Children’s Behavioral Health at (402) 955-3900

© Children's Hospital & Medical Center | In Affiliation with University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine